3 tips for less nervous presenting

3 tips for less nervous presenting

wonder womanA good friend of mine recently asked how she could do better in presentations. Watching her preparing for a talk made me realise how far I have come in dealing with my stage fright before and during presentations.

So when she asked me, ‘what else do I do apart from the Power Pose to get over my nerves?’ I started thinking about the three key techniques I use that really help.

Presenting is nerve wracking for pretty much everyone. It puts you on show and says ‘here I am, judge me!’ The body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, shaking, sweating, fuzzy thoughts, no access to your usual brain… But in small quantities, these nerves are a good thing. That is what stress is designed to do, improve performance.

So here they are, my three key tips and techniques to give you something other than your nerves to concentrate on:

  1. Prepare

I really envy those presenters who can think on their feet, be funny and off the cuff, remember witty examples of times when it has happened before. But then I found myself doing just that – and you know why? I practised. I practised and practised some key examples of specific things in the same way I used to for an interview. And when it came to the day, those witty, off the cuff and very well practised examples were on the tip of my tongue.

Know your stuff, prepare it, practice it and summarise the key points

  1. Pose

You may well have watched Amy Cuddy’s TED talk all about ‘Power Posing’ before a stressful situation. It is after all the second most watched TED talk of all time so if you haven’t then start watching it now. Being Wonder Woman though is not something you can do on stage, sitting on a panel waiting for your turn, what do you do then?

Breathe Deep. Stand Tall. Think about your body position

Yes it sounds silly but breathing deeply tells your body you are OK, you are not about to be eaten by lions. Standing tall makes you look confident to others and again, helps fool your body. Considering specific body positions (I favour the ballet first position for my feet) and hand movements helps focus on something other than ‘AARRGGHH I have forgotten it all!’

  1. Pace

Firstly you have to slow it down. You are probably racing through it too fast for people to take in.

Once you have settled into a stride, stop – look at the audience, give them time to come with you.

Then speed it up a bit. Its your subject – don’t be afraid to be passionate about it! That is why you have been asked up here anyway. If you get nervous again for having shown too much of yourself, do 2 then 3 again until you have found your stride again.

Slow Down. Stop. Speed Up.


But what do you do when the fire alarm goes off, or you are not sure what to say? Back to the beginning. Take it to things that you DO know about, you DID prepare about, check your body position, start breathing, slow down and just try not to show how much your hands are shaking (or is that just me?).

And of course, don’t forget – stress actually makes you perform better. Nerves are a good thing, honest!

If you would like some help thinking differently about presenting, or any other area of your working life, get in touch.

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